Launch of the Great Lakes Women Entrepreneurs’ Network
Nairobi, 2 December 2021 - On 2 December 2021, the Office of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, and the Private Sector Forum of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) launched the Great Lakes Women Entrepreneurs’ Network in Nairobi. This initiative is a follow-up to the regional workshop for women business leaders, held in December 2019 in Nairobi to promote the role of women entrepreneurs in advancing regional economic cooperation in the Great Lakes region and in support to the implementation of the UN Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution for the Great Lakes region and the ICGLR Regional Action Plan on the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1325.
Women entrepreneurs in the Great Lakes region account for about 70% of cross-border traders and their role, as catalysts for the region’s economic growth, is recognized as contributing to the consolidation of peace and security in the Great Lakes region. The region’s rich soils promote a vibrant agricultural sector that is driven predominately by women. The region has also witnessed microeconomic resilience and innovative practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, with women entrepreneurs adjusting their business models to manufacture and supply public health-related essential goods.
On 5-6 December 2019, the Office of the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes, in coordination with the Regional Women Forum facilitated a regional preparatory workshop for women business leaders to promote the role of women entrepreneurs in advancing regional economic cooperation through concrete business initiatives and partnerships.
On 20 November 2020, heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes region held their 8th Summit under the theme “Fostering the implementation of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes region by intensifying regional economic cooperation and development”. In view of the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders decided to establish initiatives for the social and economic recovery of vulnerable social groups such as women and people living with disabilities.
The launch of the Great Lakes Women Entrepreneurs’ Network is in line with the UN Strategy for Peace Consolidation, Conflict Prevention and Conflict Resolution for the region, as it places a strong emphasis on gender equality and women’s empowerment. The ceremony was officiated by Huang Xia, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region and Richard Ngatia, President of the ICGLR Private Sector Forum.